Chapter Nine

Denali, Alaska

Forty-eight hours later...

"We did it." Alice sighed in relief. The zombies had slaughtered over fifty percent of the residents of Forks. La Push had been miraculously spared because the zombies never made it out that far to the coast; still, they were saddened by the deaths of a beloved elder and a respected tribal chief. Little did they know that Elder Sue Swan and Tribal Chief William Black were currently holed up in a large mansion in Denali, Alaska transforming into vampires. Transforming along with them was Elder Swan's husband and esteemed Police Chief Charlie Swan; the latter looked as if he was in an almost relaxed state while the other two were shaking, shivering, and screaming in agony.

The group had just arrived in Denali, having run all the way from Forks, Washington with three humans undergoing the change in tow. Eleazar turned on the news. They all tuned in to watch.

"It looks like the military is taking charge and eradicating all zombies. The states affected in large part are the ones from Texas going northwest through Washington State. Vancouver and Calgary have been affected in Canada. All of Alaska is safe. The governments of all nations are finally admitting that the zombie situation has nothing at all to do with the flu. They are calling Esme Platt and Isabella McCarty heroes for doing a public service and showing the world how to destroy zombies."

"Cool, we're heroes, Esme!" Bella chirped.

"We sure are and we can owe it all to my zombie romance books."

"I still think you have serious issues for reading zombie romance books."

"Bella, 'My Undead Earl' is really good. You should read it."

"I'll stick with my rakes and rogues in breeches and my lairds in kilts."

"You do that, Bella."

"I have a kilt." Caius nodded his head. For the last two days, he had been trying to get to know his mate while destroying zombies, but to no avail. He was always interrupted by the two butt-inskys—Emmett McCarty and Jasper Whitlock. Both of them were protective of her and they'd even informed him that there would be no funny business when it came to Bella—whatever the hell that meant.

"I need to go hunting," Bella announced.

"I'll take you," Caius offered immediately.

"No, no, no...I don't think..."

"Emmett, sit! Caius isn't going to hurt Bella. He's her mate. You're going to have to trust him."

"I..."

"Sit down, Emmett. You too, Jasper!" Rosalie had her mighty bitch glare on and everyone squirmed.

Heidi now turned to him with an equally ferocious stare. "Caius, you will behave and treat her with respect, won't you? If I hear any different from Bella, I'll have Kate send you volts of pain until you're no longer able to feel your testicles."

"Ow! Heidi, our balls are tender."

"I know, they're important to you men since they house your brains. I'm just telling you that if you don't treat Bella respectfully, you will be in pain. That's all."

"I'm still your king, you know!"

"Yeah, yeah, get out of here." Heidi sighed. "You know, it's tough being the only sensible one in the castle."

Caius and Bella left the mansion and walked at a leisurely pace through the forest. "I've been wanting to talk to you," she said after awhile.

"Yeah, me too."

"So, you're my mate?"

He gulped. For some reason, he was incredibly nervous which was unlike him because usually he had balls of steel. Then again, his balls had just been threatened with supernatural pain by way of Kate.

"What are you thinking about?" she asked when he didn't answer her.

"Pain."

"How is Jane, by the way?"

"Dead, thank God."

"I'm sorry."

"Why?"

"Oh, I don't know, I just thought that she meant something to the Volturi."

"Not to me, she was an evil witch." He stopped in his tracks and looked at her. "Can I kiss you?"

"Kiss me? Why?"

"I want to. I've wanted to kiss you since I first saw you popping off three zombies with your pistol on live TV."

"Shouldn't we talk about this whole mating thing first?"

"Sure, I guess. What do you want to know?"

"Um..." Bella scratched her head. She really didn't know what to ask him. She just knew that they had to talk—about what, she had no idea. "What's your name?"

"Caius, but you knew that."

"What's your full name?"

"Caius. We didn't have surnames three thousand years ago."

"Oh. I didn't know that."

"What's your full name?"

"Isabella Marie Swan. I'm eighteen—well, I'm permanently eighteen. How old are you?"

"Twenty-one." Bella nodded her head and stood there staring at him. "That's enough small talk." Caius pulled her into his arms and covered her mouth with his. He wasn't good with expressing feelings with words, but he could certainly show it.

Bella, at first, was stunned by the kiss. She wasn't expecting to be kissed. She certainly wasn't expecting the kiss to be so wet, so wonderful, so warm. Her last kiss with a vampire had been a chaste one with Edward who had felt cold, like concrete to her human lips. But this kiss, this kiss she was sharing with her mate was all sorts of wonderful. She sighed as he traced the outline of her lips with his tongue and gently sucked in her lower lip. She felt like one of the heroines in her romance books being seduced by a rake. She was still staring at him dreamy eyed when he finally stopped.

"We should hunt now."

"Yeah, we probably should," she agreed.

He took her hand and they ran. He watched as Bella took down a bear and fed from it; it took every bit of self-control for him to not take her right then and there. He held onto a tree for dear life because if he let go of it—he'd claim her in the middle of the forest and she didn't deserve that. His mate deserved everything that was beautiful and wonderful in life and he would be damned if he didn't give her that.

"Do you need to hunt?" Bella asked as she wiped away a drop of blood with her sleeve.

"No, I hunted in Forks. I'm fine."

"Oh. Should we get back to the house?"

"Maybe we can talk more?"

"I'd like that."

And so they talked and kissed and talked and kissed and talked and kissed until they were all talked out and all they had left to do was kiss. It was six hours later when they finally returned to the house. Miraculously, Bella's virginity was still intact.

A day later...

Every single vampire was on alert as the heartbeats of the three changing humans thumped out their last beats. Charlie Swan was the last to wake up.

"Jesus Christ, Susie! What the hell was all that wailing about? I couldn't even get a wink of sleep, damn it!"

None of the vampires knew how to respond to that. They'd never seen a newborn so coherent.

"Hi, Daddy!" Bella greeted with a smile on her face.

"Hey, baby girl. Did you get rid of all of the zombies?"

"We did. We all did."

"Good going. So this is Alaska, huh?"

"How did you know?"

"Gee, it's not like I couldn't hear all of you talking. I told you that I didn't get any sleep with Sue wailing like a damned banshee."

"It wasn't just Sue, Billy was hollering, too."

"Damn, they were loud."

"Dad, you do know you're a vampire, don't you?"

"Yep, I do."

"That's good. You're going to live for an eternity and so are Sue and Billy." She pointed to Sue and Billy who were both trembling in fear. Apparently, that was how typical newborns behaved.

"We need to take you hunting," Jasper said. "I have a feeling you'll take to this life like a pro; just like your daughter."